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New trove of Hillary Clinton’s emails highlights workaday tasks at the State Department

The State Department released a trove of email messages on Tuesday night from Hillary Rodham Clinton's first year as secretary of state amid deep curiosity in both parties about what they will show as she mounts her second campaign for the White House.

Many of the messages concern simple logistics and scheduling, with Mrs. Clinton confirming meetings at the White House or seeking to rearrange her calendar to accommodate various demands. Others are messages from aides or other administration officials praising her public performances or checking to see if she minded her email address being given out.

Unlike previous batches of emails released since Mrs. Clinton turned over messages to the State Department, these did not concern the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, that has been the subject of a Republican-led congressional inquiry. Instead, they cover a range of everyday events as well as matters like the war in Afghanistan, women's issues and the dispute between Turkey and Armenia in 2009, three years before the Benghazi attack.


Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during the 2015 United States Conference of Mayors on June 20, 2015 in San Francisco.
Getty Images
Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during the 2015 United States Conference of Mayors on June 20, 2015 in San Francisco.

The cache of emails has been the subject of intense interest for months. Although the State Department initially wanted to release the messages — more than 55,000 pages — all at once next January after reviewing them for sensitive material, a judge ordered the department to release them on a monthly basis. The messages released on Tuesday night cover about 3,000 pages.

The State Department said late Tuesday that portions of two dozen emails from this tranche had been redacted because they were upgraded to "classified status." The emails were sent in 2009, and their contents were apparently not sensitive enough to national security at the time to have required a higher classification status. The State Department described the move "routine" when the government discloses documents to the public.

It may take a day or so before the messages are thoroughly scrutinized, but a quick examination on Tuesday night showed a secretary of state navigating a difficult political environment as part of an administration led by a president who defeated her for their party's nomination the year before. On several occasions, Mrs. Clinton clearly appeared concerned about possible disconnect with the White House.

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"I heard on the radio that there is a Cabinet mtg this am," she wrote aides on June 8, 2009. "Is there? Can I go? If not, who are we sending?" (It turned out it was not a cabinet meeting but one for lower-level officials.)

Four days later, she emailed aides after showing up for a 10:45 a.m. meeting at the White House only to be told it was canceled. "This is the second time this has happened," she wrote. "What's up???"

The same month, she expressed curiosity at a decision by the administration to not participate in a meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors. "Maybe they don't want to be associated w big cities?" she wrote. "I had a lot of support from the Conf and the mayors so I hope that's not it."

But aides to President Obama clearly were intent on keeping her in the fold, at least with flattering messages. After she injured her elbow in a fall, David Axelrod, the president's senior adviser, sent her a message with the subject line "So sorry!" expressing hope that she get better soon. "You are an all-star player, and we need you for the long run!" he wrote.

Still, the suspicion ran deep. Before Mr. Axelrod sent her the message, he had to ask her aides for her address, and the aides checked with her first about whether it was O.K. to give to him. They similarly asked whether it was all right to give her address to Rahm Emanuel, then the White House chief of staff.

Her policy priorities come through in the messages as well. In July 2009, when an aide forwarded Mrs. Clinton a message about treatment of gays and lesbians in Iraq, both before and after the reign of Saddam Hussein, she wrote back quickly: "So sad and terrible. We should ask Chris Hill," the American ambassador, "to raise w govt."

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Mrs. Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, is known for not using email, but he makes cameo appearances in messages from others. At times, it seems, the Clintons communicated with each other through their aides.

In May 2009, Doug Band, the former president's adviser, wrote to Cheryl Mills, the secretary's chief of staff, to inform her that Mr. Clinton had accepted the role of United Nations special envoy to Haiti and that the news had begun to leak. "WJC said he was going to call HRC but hasn't had time," Mr. Band wrote, using initials for the couple. Ms. Mills forwarded the email to another aide and said, "You need to walk this to HRC if she is not gone."

While an ostensibly nonpartisan figure as secretary, Mrs. Clinton clearly still worried about retiring her $23 million campaign debt from 2008. "Thank you so very much!!!" her chief of protocol, Capricia Marshall, wrote to Paul Begala, a longtime Clinton friend and Democratic strategist, in April 2009. "We raised 500K from the email contest!! You are all amazing — the world adores you!" She added, "You put a serious hole in HRC debt!"

Mr. Begala responded by asking for talking points before he went on CNN to rate Mrs. Clinton's early performance. Ms. Marshall referred him to several State Department aides. After his appearance, Mr. Begala emailed back: "I gave Sec. Clinton an A+ in our dopey CNN report card last night." Ms. Mills forwarded that to Mrs. Clinton with an "FYI."